Critical Incidence Policy - Scoil Naomh Áine, Rathgarogue

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Critical Incidence Policy

Plans and Policies


Scoil Naomh Áine aims to protect the well-being of its students and staff by providing a safe and nurturing environment at all times.. The Board of Management, through the principal Anne-Marie O’ Neill, has drawn up a Critical Incident Management Plan as one element of the school’s policies and plans.
Review and Research
The CIMT have consulted resource documents available to schools on and including:
  • Responding to Critical Incidents Guidelines and Resources for Schools (NEPS 201 6)
  • Suicide Prevention in Schools: Best Practice Guidelines (IAS, National Suicide Review Group        (2002)
  • Suicide Prevention in the Community - A Practical Guide (HSE 2011)
  • Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (DES, DOH, HSE 2013)
  • Well-Being in Primary Schools - Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion
(DES, DOH, HSE 2015)

What is a Critical Incident?
The staff and management of Scoil Naomh Áine recognise a critical incident to be “an incident or sequence of events that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school”. Critical incidents may involve one or more students or staff members, or members of our local community. Types of incidents might include:
  • The death of a member of the school community through accident, violence, suicide or suspected suicide or other unexpected death
  • An intrusion into the school
  • An accident involving members of the school community
  • An accident/tragedy in the wider community
  • Serious damage to the school building through fire, flood, vandalism, etc
  • The disappearance of a member of the school community

The aim of the CIMP is to help school management and staff to react quickly and effectively in the event of an incident, to enable us to maintain a sense of control and to ensure that appropriate support is offered to students and staff. Having a good plan should also help ensure that the effects on the students and staff will be limited. It should enable us to effect a return to normality as soon as possible.
Creation of a coping supportive and caring ethos in the school
We have put systems in place to help to build resilience in both staff and students, thus preparing them to cope with a range of life events. These include measures to address both the physical and psychological safety of the school community.

Physical safety
  • Evacuation plan formulated
  • Regular fire drills occur
  • Fire exits and extinguishers are regularly checked
  • Pre-opening supervision in the school yard – Teachers and SNAs supervise the yards from 9:10 – 9:20 each morning
  • Magnetic lock on front and side doors of the school
  • Rules of the playground


Psychological safety
The management and staff of Scoil Naomh Áine aim to use available programmes and resources to address the personal and social development of students, to enhance a sense of safety and security in the school and to provide opportunities for reflection and discussion.
  • Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is integrated into the work of the school. It is addressed in the curriculum by addressing issues such as grief and loss; communication skills; stress and anger management; resilience; conflict management; problem solving; help-seeking; bullying; decision making and prevention of alcohol and drug misuse. Promotion of mental health is an integral part of this provision
  • Staff have access to training for their role in SPHE
  • Staff are familiar with the Child Protection Guidelines and Procedures and details of how to proceed with suspicions or disclosures
  • The school has developed links with a range of external agencies – NEPS, HSE, Tusla,
  • Inputs to students by external providers are carefully considered in the light of criteria about student safety, the appropriateness of the content, and the expertise of the providers. “The qualified classroom teacher is the best placed professional to work sensitively and consistently with students and she/he can have a powerful impact on influencing students’ attitudes, values, and behaviour in all aspects of wellbeing education.” “External facilitators always work under the guidance and supervision of the relevant classroom teacher who remains in the classroom with the students at all times and retains a central role in the delivery of the subject matter.”  See DES Circulars 0022/2010 (Primary)
  • The school has a clear policy on bullying and deals with bullying in accordance with this policy
  • There is a care system in place in the school using the "Continuum of Support" approach which is outlined in the NEPS documents published on 2007 for primary schools.
  • Students who are identified as being at risk are supported by a trusted member of staff; Class teacher, SET Teacher, Principal, concerns are explored and the appropriate level of assistance and support is provided. Parents are informed, and where appropriate, a referral is made to an appropriate agency.
  • Staffare informed about how to access support for themselves. The Employee Assistance Programme provided by Inspire Workplaces provides support for teachers.

Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT)
A CIMT has been established in line with best practice. In-school management are members of the CIMT team and will retain their roles for at least one school year. The members of the team will meet annually to review and update the policy and plan. Each member of the team has a dedicated critical incident folder. This contains a copy of the policy and plan and materials particular to their role, to be used in the event of an incident.

Team leader: Anne-Marie O’ Neill (Principal)
  • Alerts the team members to the crisis and convenes a meeting
  • Coordinates the tasks of the team
  • Liaises with the Board of Management; DES; NEPS; SEC
  • Liaises with the bereaved family

Garda liaison Anne-Marie O’ Neill (Principal)
  • Liaises with the Gardaí
  • Ensures that information about deaths or other developments is checked out for accuracy before being shared

Staff liaison Karen Murphy (Deputy Principal) and Anne-Marie O’ Neill (Principal)
  • Leads briefing meetings for staff on the facts as known, gives staff members an opportunity to express their feelings and ask questions, outlines the routine for the day
  • Advises staff on the procedures for identification of vulnerable students
  • Provides materials for staff (from their critical incident folder)
  • Keeps staff updated as the day progresses
  • Is alert to vulnerable staff members and makes contact with them individually
  • Advises them of the availability of the EAS and gives them the contact number.

Student liaison Karen Murphy (Deputy Principal)
  • Co-ordinates information from class teachers about pupils they are concerned about
  • Alerts other staff to vulnerable students (appropriately)
  • Provides materials for students (from their critical incident folder)
  • Maintains student contact records (R1).
  • Looks after setting up and supervision of ‘quiet’ room where agreed

Community/agency liaison Kay Grace
  • Maintains up to date lists of contact numbers of
    • Key parents, such as members of the Parents Council
    • Emergency support services and other external contacts and resources
  • Liaises with agencies in the community for support and onward referral
  • Is alert to the need to check credentials of individuals offering support
  • Coordinates the involvement of these agencies
  • Reminds agency staff to wear name badges
  • Updates team members on the involvement of external agencies

Parent liaison Anne-Marie O’ Neill and Karen Murphy
  • Visits the bereaved family with the team leader
  • Arranges parent meetings, if held
  • May facilitate such meetings, and manage ‘questions and answers’
  • Manages the ‘consent’ issues in accordance with agreed school policy
  • Ensures that sample letters are typed up, on the school’s system and ready for adaptation
  • Sets up room for meetings with parents
  • Maintains a record of parents seen
  • Meets with individual parents
  • Provides appropriate materials for parents (from their critical incident folder)

Media liaison Fr. Seán Devereux (Chairperson BoM)  
  • In advance of an incident, will consider issues that may arise and how they might be responded to (e.g. students being interviewed, photographers on the premises, etc)
  • In the event of an incident, will liaise where necessary with the SEC; relevant teacher unions etc.
  • Will draw up a press statement, give media briefings and interviews (as agreed by school management)

Administrator Kay Grace and Colette Cleary with Sandra Dalton
  • Maintenance of up to date telephone numbers of
    • Parents or guardians
    • Teachers
    • Emergency services
  • Takes telephone calls and notes those that need to be responded to
  • Ensures that templates are on the schools system in advance and ready for adaptation
  • Prepares and sends out letters, emails and texts
  • Photocopies materials needed
  • Maintains records

Record keeping - Sandra Dalton
In the event of an incident each member of the team will keep records of phone calls made and received, letters sent and received, meetings held, persons met, interventions used, material used etc.
Sandra Dalton will have a key role in receiving and logging telephone calls, sending letters, photocopying materials, etc.

Confidentiality and good name considerations
Management and staff of Scoil Naomh Áine have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of people involved in any incident and will be sensitive to the consequences of public statements. Members of school staff will bear this in mind, and seek to ensure that students do so also, e.g. the term ‘suicide’ will not be used unless there is solid information that death was due to suicide, and that the family involved consents to its use. The phrases ‘tragic death’ or ‘sudden death’ may be used instead. Similarly, the word ‘murder’ should not be used until it is legally established that a murder was committed. The term ‘violent death’ may be used instead.

Critical Incident Rooms

In the event of a critical incident, the following rooms are designated for the indicated purposes
Room Name:                            Designated Purpose:
Staff Room                               Main room for meeting staff
Halla Mór or classrooms             Meetings with students
Halla Mór                                 Meetings with parents
Special Education Room             Meetings with media
Room 5                                    Individual sessions with students
Principal’s Office                        Meetings with other visitors

Consultation and communication regarding the plan
All staff were consulted and their views canvassed in the preparation of this policy and plan. Students and parent/guardian representatives were also consulted and asked for their comments.
Our school's final policy and plan in relation to responding to critical incidents has been presented to all staff. Each member of the critical incident team has a personal copy of the plan.
All new and temporary staff will be informed of the details of the plan by Anne-Marie O’ Neill
The plan will be updated annually in September.

Critical Incident Management Team
Role                       Name
Team leader:         Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Garda liaison:         Anne-Marie O’ Neill  
Staff liaison :          Karen Murphy and Anne-Marie O’ Neill  
Student liaison:       Karen Murphy  
Community liaison:  Kay Grace  
Parent liaison:         Anne-Marie O’ Neill and Karen Murphy  
Media liaison :         Fr. Seán Deverreux  
Administrator:         Sandra Dalton, Kay Grace and Colette Cleary  

Short term actions – Day 1
Task                                                                              Name
Gather accurate information                                              Anne-Marie O’ Neill, Fr. Seán Devereux
Who, what, when, where?                                                 Anne-Marie O’ Neill,  Fr. Seán Devereux
Convene a CIMT meeting – specify time and place clearly     Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Contact external agencies                                                  Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Arrange supervision for students                                        Kay Grace and Colette Cleary
Hold staff meeting                                                            All staff
Agree schedule for the day                                                In School Management Team
Inform students – (close friends and students with              Teachers deemed to have a close relationship with the individual pupils and /
learning difficulties may need to be told separately)              or Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Compile a list of vulnerable students                                   All class teachers
Prepare and agree media statement and deal with media      Fr. Seán Devereux and Board of Management
Inform parents                                                                 Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Hold end of day staff briefing                                             Anne-Marie O’ Neill and Karen Murphy

Medium term actions - (Day 2 and following days)
Task                                                                                                            Name
Convene a CIMT meeting to review the events of day 1                                    Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Meet external agencies                                                                                  Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Meet whole staff                                                                                           Anne-Marie O’ Neill and Karen Murphy
Arrange support for students, staff, parents                                                     Anne-Marie O’ Neill, Karen Murphy, Kay Grace
Visit the injured                                                                                            Anne-Marie O’ Neill and Karen Murphy
Liaise with bereaved family regarding funeral arrangements                              Fr. Seán Devereux and Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Agree on attendance and participation at funeral service                                   Fr. Seán Devereux and Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Make decisions about school closure                                                               BOM

Follow-up – beyond 72 hours
Task                                                                                                            Name
Monitor students for signs of continuing distress                                              Class teachers
Liaise with agencies regarding referrals                                                           Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Plan for return of bereaved student(s)                                                            Class teachers and Anne-Marie O’ Neill
Plan for giving of ‘memory box’ to bereaved family                                           Kay Grace
Decide on memorials and anniversaries                                                           BOM/Staff, parents and students
Review response to incident and amend plan                                                   Staff/BOM

EMERGENCY CONTACT LIST                       AGENCY                                                                                                     CONTACT NUMBERS
Garda                                                       051-421204
Hospital                                                    053-9153000 Wexford
                                                              051-848000 Waterford
Fire Brigade                                              051-421777
Local GPs
CARE DOC (Out Of Hours)                          1850 334999
O’ Bernie Michael                                        051-420300
Northgate Practice                                      051-421250
Nanette Boyle                                            051-421997
Child and Family Centre                              053-9123522
Child and Family Mental Health Service (CAMHS)                            053-9123522
NEPS Psychologist Lorraine Watchorn           01-8892478
DES                                                          01-8734700
INTO                                                        01-8722533
IPPN                                                         1890-212223
Employee Assistance Service                       1800 411 057

In the event of a crisis situation, critical incident or school tragedy call IPPN at: 1890  21  22  23

This can be used as a template by schools to be emailed, posted  on the school social media site or given to the media. It may help to decrease the number of media calls and callers to the school.
In some instances it is not appropriate to provide names or information that might identify individuals.
This announcement will need to be changed based upon confidentiality issues, the wishes of the victim’s family and the nature of the incident.

My name is (*EDIT*Name) and I am the Principal of (*EDIT*Name) School. We learned this morning of the death of (*EDIT*one of our students or Name of student). This is a terrible tragedy for the (*EDIT* Family Name) family(ies), our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by these events. Our sympathy and thoughts are with the (*EDIT* Family Name) family and friends.
(*EDIT*Name) was a (*EDIT* e.g. 5th year boy) and will be greatly missed by all who knew him/her.
We have been in contact with his/her parents and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time.
Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated. Our school have implemented our Critical Incident Management Plan.
Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and (*EDIT*insert other information if relevant) have been with us all day supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to assist our students at this time.
The teachers have been helping students to deal with the tragic event.
The school has been open to parents, to support them and to offer them advice and guidance.
We would ask you to respect our privacy at this time.
Thank you.

School Contact                                                                                                                                       Details School Crest

Dear Parents
I need to inform you about a very sad event that has happened.
(*EDIT*Give accurate information about the incident, but avoid using the word murder as this will not be established until the court case is completed).
We have shared this information and had discussions with all of our students so that they know what has happened. School staff members have been available for students on an on-going basis today. Other support personnel (*EDIT*including psychologists etc, according to actual arrangements) are available to advise staff. This support will continue to be available to advise staff in their support of students(*EDIT*if appropriate insert how long).
The death of any young person is tragic, but a violent death is even more difficult. It is hard to have to teach our children about the violence in our world and to accept that sometimes we do not have the power to prevent it.
This death may cause a variety of reactions in your child. Some children/young people may be afraid for their own life and for the lives of those they love. Take time to listen to their fears and reassure them that what has happened is rare.
We have enclosed some additional information that may be useful during this time.
The media are in the vicinity of the school and may approach you or your children. You need not respond to their questions if you are approached. We will not allow the media to interview your child at school and our general advice is that you should not let your children be interviewed. They are not mature enough to judge what to say and may say something they will regret later.
Young people frequently turn to social media to see what others are saying, or to find out more. At these times it is important that you monitor their use and engage with them about what they read. We urge you to emphasise and reinforce the need to be extremely sensitive and careful about what they post.
(If planned) A support meeting for parents is planned for (date, time and place). At that time we can talk further about how to help ourselves and our children.
Our thoughts are with (*EDIT* family name) and with each of you.

EDIT* Principal Name
School Contact Details School Crest
Dear Parents
The school has experienced (*EDIT* the sudden death, accidental injury, etc.) of Name of student(s). We are deeply saddened by the deaths/events.
(*EDIT*  Brief details of the incident, and in the event of a death, perhaps some positive remembrances of the person lost).
Our thoughts are with (*EDIT* family name).
We have support structures in place to help your child cope with this tragedy. (*EDIT* Elaborate).
It is possible that your child may have some feelings and questions that he/she may like to discuss with you. It is important to give factual information that is appropriate to their age.
You can help your child by taking time to listen and by encouraging them to express their feelings.
All children are different and will express their feelings in different ways. It is not uncommon for children to have difficulty concentrating or to be fearful, anxious, or irritable. They may become withdrawn, cry, complain of physical aches and pains, have difficulty sleeping or have nightmares. Some may not want to eat. These are generally short term reactions. Over the course of the days to come, please keep an eye on your child and allow him/her to express their feelings without criticism.
Although classes will continue as usual, I anticipate that the next few days will be difficult for everyone.
(*EDIT* Optional) An information night for parents is planned for (*EDIT*  date, time and place). At that time, further information about how to help children in grief will be given.
We have enclosed some information which you may find useful in helping your child through this difficult time.
Young people frequently turn to social media to see what others are saying, or to find out more. At these times it is important that you monitor their use and engage with them about what they read. We urge you to emphasise and reinforce the need to be extremely sensitive and careful about what they post.
If you would like advice you may contact the following people at the school. (*EDIT* Details). Principal’s signature
Principals Signature

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